American Elephants


Obama Slashes Defense to Pay-Off Unions and ACORN by American Elephant

Barack Obama wants us to mortgage our future to the tune of $1.1 trillion dollars for a “stimulus” bill that will do nothing to stimulate the economy but a great deal to line the pockets of liberal interest groups and make Americans dependent on Democrat-led big government. Unions, ACORN, environmental groups, Hollywood…. the bill reads like a laundry list of give-aways to liberal special-interests and big socialized government.

But while the sky is the limit when it comes to buying a permanent Democrat majority,  news came down late Friday night  that Obama has found some massive spending cuts he is willing to make. In the midst of two wars, an erstwhile worldwide offensive against terror, and increasing aggression by the most dangerous regimes around the world, Barack Obama has directed the joint chiefs to slash military spending by over 10 percent:

The Obama administration has asked the military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff to cut the Pentagon’s budget request for the fiscal year 2010 by more than 10 percent — about $55 billion — a senior U.S. defense official tells FOX News.

Last year’s defense budget was $512 billion. Service chiefs and planners will be spending the weekend “burning the midnight oil” looking at ways to cut the budget — looking especially at weapons programs, the defense official said. [read more]

Naturally, since the Dear Leader signaled he is trying to hide this move by ordering the cuts on a weekend, everyone but FOX News has refused to even cover the story.The same way the MSM refused to cover this video. Even when Obama later made ridiculous claims in the general election that his approach to national defense would differ little from John McCain’s.

Of course at $55 billion, the defense cuts still don’t come close to paying for his “stimulus” bill.  But look on the bright side — with leadership like this, perhaps our children won’ t even be here when the massive bill comes due for Obama and the Democrats’ reckless agenda.

(h/t Gay Patriot)

Update: Ed Morrisey nails it:

I’m not going to argue that the defense budget doesn’t have fat.  I’ve seen defense contracting from the inside, and it stinks.  However, unlike the Obama stimulus bill that will cost more than twice as much as the 2010 defense budget, it’s not 90% fat.  Director Blue reminds us of a few numbers:

• $83 billion in welfare payments
• $81 billion for Medicaid
• $66 billion on “education”, more than the entire Department of Education required just ten years ago
• $36 billion for expanded unemployment benefits
• $20 billion for food stamps
• $8 billion on “renewable energy” projects, which have a low or negative return
• $7 billion for “modernizing federal buildings and facilities”
• $6 billion on urban transit systems, dominated by unions and which, almost universally, lose money
• $2.4 billion for “carbon-capture demonstration projects”
• $2 billion for child-care subsidies
• $1 billion for Amtrak, the federal railroad that’s run in the red for 40 years
• $650 million for “digital TV conversion coupons” (on top of billions already spent)
• $600 million on new cars for government (added to the $3 billion already spent each year)
• $400 million for “global-warming research”
• $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts

Obama’s busy expanding all of the rest of the government except for its primary, Constitutional mission: defending the nation. [read more]

Up-Update: Congressional Quarterly is now reporting that Obama has given the pentagon a $527 billion upper limit on spending, which, if correct, would mean up to an 8% increase in spending. We’ll have to wait and see what the final story is, but for now, just as I was willing to criticize him for slashing the defense budget, I will also praise him for doing the right thing if he does increase it.



The Choice: Boost the Economy or Play Politics. FAIL! by The Elephant's Child

No wonder they are trying to rush this “economic stimulus” package through Congress.  The more people pour through the 1855 pages of this bill, the more they find out about it. The overriding theme is that:  This is an enormous  crisis which requires great haste to pass the bill (but no time to read it) but there is no rush to get any of the money into the economy, which won’t happen for at least 18 months. Please read that last sentence again.

Now is the time to make the tough choices” President Obama, Jan. 26: noted Robert Samuelson yesterday.

Among the many claims made for the “economic stimulus” package in front of Congress is that it will “jump-start” a “bigger, better, smarter” electric grid, letting Americans use energy more efficiently.

The package commits $4.5 billion to this, which (says the White House) will help finance 4,000 miles of transmission lines and 40 million “smart meters.”

Sounds great.

But it may be mostly hype.  For starters, the $4.5 billion is a pittance.  An industry study in 2004 — surely outdated —put the price tag of modernizing the grid at $165 billion.

More important, says a report from JPMorgan, the “smart grid” isn’t mainly a matter of building new transmission lines or installing new meters.  It’s more “communication and information processing technology” that allows for more efficient transportation and use of power.

“The smart grid, while a great idea, is basically a software project,” says economist Marc Levinson of  JPMorgan.  “The reason utilities aren’t pushing it faster is not lack of money or will, but because there are lots of technical issues and also important compatibility problems so that the various companies’ grids can communicate freely with one another.”

As it turns out, President Obama didn’t make the tough choices on the stimulus package.  He could have used the program mainly (a) to bolster the economy or (b) to advance a larger political agenda…

According to the Congressional Budget Office, only 21% of the new spending would actually flow to the economy in fiscal 2009 (till September).  For fiscal 2010 an additional 44%, and a third would not be spent until after 2011.

Which, by the way, is when the Bush tax cuts will expire, creating the largest tax increase in history.  An estimate is that a family of four (2 children) making  $60,000 would see their taxes rise by $1,900.  And if you make over $200,000 ($150.000, $120,000) they plan on taxing you enough to render over 50% of the population tax free.

As Robert Samuelson said:  (Read the whole article here)

There were tough choices to be made —  Obama ducked them all.



Green promises are not green because they are environmentally sound, but because they are snake oil! by The Elephant's Child

In the Old West there were, famously, medicine men who traveled around to small towns that were springing up, posing as doctors and selling bottles of elixir guaranteed, guaranteed, to cure all ills.  Often they had a companion who would play a little music, or sing to create something of a show and draw an audience.  The medicine man would promise wonderful things, no more aches, no more pain, no more cough, never tired, new lease on life with only a tablespoon every single day.

Modern day sellers of snake oil prepare you to do what they want you to do, with the techniques of  what today is called “community organizing.” The idea is to recognize people’s worries and to remind them every day how unhappy they are, and how miserable their situation is, and to turn those miseries to organizing to accomplish the organizer’s goals. In other words, you have been had.

Al Gore came by on Wednesday, in the middle of a sleet storm to tell the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the end is near, peddling  his own brand of snake oil.  Back in the late 70s, when it was first noticed that global temperatures seemed to be increasing, scientists looked for a cause and noted that CO2 was also increasing.  Ah Hah! From that oversimplified confusion of correlation and causation has emanated all sorts of mischief.  Enormous amounts of money have been invested in that mischief.

Environmentalists want to get rid of CO2. They want to get rid of petroleum, cars, nuclear energy, hydropower dams,  coal  or anything else that is extracted from the earth. They believe firmly that if only we invest enough money; wind, solar and geothermal “clean” energy will transform our whole society into something cleaner and more natural, and with more “social justice.”

2008 was an outstanding year.  The U.S. wind energy industry shattered all previous records by installing 8,358 MW of new generating capacity (that’s what a wind farm could produce if everything worked and the wind blew at the proper speed all the time).  Now they need a bailout.  They can only proceed or be sustained if they are subsidized by the government.

The idea about wind energy sounded good.  Contrary to reports from wind energy advocates, wind farms create very few jobs and there are few energy, environmental or economic benefits. At least not compared to other ways that the money could be spent.  Most wind farm jobs are in construction, are short term — less than 6 months and are done by specialized workers brought in for the job.   Wind farm owners often contract with the suppliers for maintenance work, so there are no “new jobs” in the community.  Output from a wind turbine is intermittent, volatile and unreliable, and costs are high.

If the “green jobs” promise is snake oil, and studies show that it is, then why is the government willing to spend so much money on “green jobs?”  It is payback to the environmental organizations for their support in the campaign. The Apollo Alliance promised 5 million green jobs, but they just made up the figure.

Al Gore seems to believe that global warming is real and catastrophic. However, he is prepared to make many millions if Americans will just agree to try to stop global warming.  He is founder and chairman of Generation Investment Management, a London based private equity fund, and a principal in Silicon Valley venture capital firm KPCB, both of which have major interests in global warming ventures.

Obama’s nominees for energy and environment posts are by far his most radical appointments. Snake oil will abound, and changes to America that few will like.  Call your senator now.




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